Building of web sites is not our primary business. But every IT company has to have a web. It has been a long way for us and I wanted to share some thoughts about technology that can be used.
Many people are not familiar with this particular product. Liferay Portal is a Java-based enterprise portal. Most people just close the tab when they read this description. Actually, it is a lot more and you don’t have to know or use Java to use it.
Java portal is a higher layer above application server. It composes pages consisting of “portlets”, using a specific theme. Portlets can be small boxes (for example with weather forecast, RSS feed, etc.). You develop the small bits and the portal server combines them to a full web page. It also manages authentication and authorization.
Liferay portal goes beyond this simple task. It actually contains specific applications that you can use out of the box. You can publish articles and blogs. Liferay has integrated WYSIWYG HTML editor, blog aggregator and workflow management system. You can create discussion boards, calendars, wikis, etc. Liferay also allows you to communicate with social networks: you can publish a portlet with few clicks to sites like Facebook.
When we have begun developing our new web site, Liferay 5.5 was quite difficult for simple CMS use (you needed to create a page, add a portlet, configure it, etc.). In Liferay 6, most of this is simplified to a few clicks, pages can be categorized with drag and drop. We used Liferay 6 to create simple website for a first Slovak hackerspace that we are participating in. More info on this soon.
Liferay portal is amazing open-source portal solution for web publishing and collaboration in teams. It is based on open standards, so extending is very easy and usually upgrade-proof.